Talking points

Talking Points: B's have 'a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to'

Talking Points: B's have 'a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to'

GOLD STAR: J.T. Miller ended up making the most impact on the game as he knocked David Backes out of Game 5 with a hit that looked like it was head-to-head contact, and then scored the game-winner on a power play just a couple of minutes later. It was a nice give-and-go cycling play with Nikita Kucherov that ended with Miller launching a quick wrist shot from the face-off circle that caught the Bruins goalie by surprise high over his glove hand. Miller finished with the goal and a plus-1 rating in 15:16 of ice time, five shot attempts, two hits, and won 4-of-7 face-offs in a strong all-around effort in an elimination game. It’s interesting to note that Miller was the much less discussed member of that Ryan McDonagh deal with the New York Rangers, but it was the former New York forward that had the big impact in an important game for the Bolts. 

BLACK EYE: Brad Marchand wasn’t very good in one of the biggest games of the year after his actions licking the face of Ryan Callahan became a bit of a sideshow during the series. Marchand finished without a single shot on net, had a couple of giveaways and didn’t really provide any offensive pressure in a game where the Bruins only managed one goal. One would have thought that No. 63 would have been better with everything swirling around him, but instead it looked like he dialed back his game a bit and played more tentatively than usual. It’s too bad because the Bruins really were a boom-or-bust team with that top line during the playoffs, and were very much hurt by the fact the Bruin didn’t have a single 5-on-5 goal from any of their forwards in the final four games of the playoff series against Tampa Bay. 

TURNING POINT: The Bruins had a solid first period where they exited with a one-goal lead and scored first for only the second time in the series, and then things really fell apart in the second period during a less than four-minute span. Brayden Point dangled picked up a loose puck and managed to dangle through Tuukka Rask for the game-tying goal at the midway mark of the second period, and then JT Miller knocked David Backes out of the game with a head-to-head hit that left Boston’s power forward down and dazed on the ice. Then Miller scored the game-winner on a power play after Patrice Bergeron was called for tripping, and in that span of just a couple of minutes the Bruins really lost all control of the game. They were within striking distance after that, but it just wasn’t going to happen against a stingy Lightning team. 

HONORABLE MENTION: Charlie McAvoy turned in a very strong final game of his rookie season by leading the Bruins with 26:49 of ice time, and assisting on the only goal they scored with a sweet room service pass to David Krejci for his one-time goal. McAvoy very clearly got better as the series went along and as he was further removed from his knee injury, and finished with two shots on net, four shot attempts, three hits and four blocked shots in a strong all-around game. McAvoy also had a nice open ice hit on Brayden Point as well in the first period that the referees turned into a cross-checking penalty after the two players got tangled up after the hit. Clearly, there weren’t many great standouts for the Bruins in a 3-1 loss, but the performance of McAvoy was definitely a positive. 

BY THE NUMBERS: 19-12 – the power play discrepancy for the series with Tampa Bay finishing with seven more PP chances than Boston over the course of a five-game series. An extra PP in Games 2 and 4 would have probably made this look a lot closer to even, eh NHL? 

QUOTE TO NOTE: “There’s a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to for next season.” –Zdeno Chara, who felt pride and optimism along with the normal disappointment as the Bruins were eliminated from the playoffs.  

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Talking Points: Kucherov and some favorable calls help Lightning beat Bruins

Talking Points: Kucherov and some favorable calls help Lightning beat Bruins

GOLD STAR: Nikita Kucherov had his best game of the series to date, and that does not bode well for the Boston Bruins. Kucherov scored on a smoked one-timer from the face-off circle to give the Lightning a 2-0 lead in the first period, and then it was Kucherov that stripped Charlie McAvoy of the puck behind the Boston net for the game-tying goal in the third period. It certainly looked like a hold with both of Kucherov’s arms draped all over McAvoy as he tackled him to the ice, but it turned into the catalyst for a game-tying goal for the Lightning. Kucherov finished with five shots on net and 10 shot attempts in 17:50 of ice time, and had his most productive game for Tampa as it seems like their star players are finally starting to get some traction. 

BLACK EYE: The referees have been bad, bad and more bad in this entire series, and continue to make crucial mistakes that are costing the Bruins way more than they are the Lightning through the first four games. Tonight it was a play in the third period where Nikita Kucherov basically wrapped both arms around Charlie McAvoy behind the Boston net and hauled him down forcing a turnover that immediately led to a game-tying score for Steve Stamkos. It was a pretty clear holding call that led to a scoring chance for Tampa, and that shouldn’t be overlooked when the Bruins are the home team. Add that to the non-slashing call in the Brad Marchand breakaway in the Game 2 loss, and the referees have botched two major calls going against the Bruins in two very close losses for the Black and Gold. It isn’t just the Bruins/Lightning series either as the officiating has been very questionable across the league during the playoffs, but at least it normally evens out for both teams in a playoff series. The Bruins are still waiting for that to happen in this one. 

TURNING POINT: The final turning point for the Bruins was the overtime session when Brian Gionta, Ryan Donato, and Noel Acciari were stuck out on the ice together in the defensive zone, and a lost board battle turned into a scoring Tampa play right in front of the Boston net. It certainly wasn’t losing with the best out on the ice for the Black and Gold, but you’ve got to play everybody during the 5-on-5 playoff overtimes, especially after riding your main players in the third period while trying to protect a one-goal lead. In the end, the real chance for the Bruins to win this game was to finish up strong and wrap things up in the third period, and a bad non-call along with a lack of finish during 5-on-5 play both hurt the Bruins at the end of regulation. Once it goes up to the fickle nature of a puck bounce in OT, the Bruins were leaving things to chance. 

HONORABLE MENTION: It’s too bad the Bruins lost this game because Patrice Bergeron was a dominant force for the Black and Gold. Bergeron finished with two goals including what looked like the game-winner for the Bruins on a brilliant shorthanded play with Brad Marchand, and he also led the Bruins with seven shots on net during his 20:43 of ice time. Bergeron also finished with a hit and a takeaway in his night’s work and won 16-of-22 face-offs while amazingly not having to deal with getting kicked out of the circle like he had in Game 2 in Tampa. Bergeron was the best player on the ice for either team and he was playing winning hockey from beginning to end. It’s just a shame that the circumstances of the game took that victory away from No. 37 and the rest of the Bruins. 

BY THE NUMBERS: 3 – the number of consecutive games in the series vs. Tampa where the Bruins have given up the first goal and dug themselves a hole that takes some time to get out of. If the B’s want to win another game in the series, they need to start out strong and score first. 

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I have no comment on the officiating.” –Charlie McAvoy was opting to not get himself in any hot water with the league after there was no call in the third period when he was hauled down leading to the game-tying goal.

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TALKING POINTS: Tuukka Rask leads Bruins to Game 4 victory

TALKING POINTS: Tuukka Rask leads Bruins to Game 4 victory

GOLD STAR: Got to give it to Tuukka Rask, who made 31 saves overall and stopped 21-of-22 shots in the first couple of periods while the Bruins were getting their footing after the news that Patrice Bergeron wasn’t going to play. He stoned Patrick Marleau on a 2-on-1 odd-man rush in the first period, unlike the ones he scored on twice in Game 3, and made another save on a breakaway in the second period just before the Bruins were able to break the tie. There were plenty of moments early in the game when the Bruins were hemmed in or having difficulty generating any kind of offensive possession, and Rask was their best player through all of it. We’ve often said that Rask has to prove it in big games, and this may prove to the biggest game of the first-round series against the Maple Leafs. Rask was at the top of the list for getting it done for the Black and Gold tonight.

BLACK EYE: The Leafs actually played a pretty good game all things considered, but if you need to pin some blame on somebody, then give it to William Nylander. He played on a top line that got outplayed by Riley Nash, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak when it really mattered. Nylander only had one shot with most of his attempts coming from a good distance away from the net. He was a minus-2 and hasn’t really showed much of anything in the series to date. At least Auston Matthews was winning face-offs, generating offense and was a threat early in the game, but Nylander didn’t really do much to make himself noticeable in a gritty, hard-fought game that meant a ton to both teams. It’s indicative of a Leafs hockey club that probably needs to mature a little bit before they’re ready to truly make a deep run in the playoffs.

TURNING POINT: Clearly it was the Brad Marchand goal in the second period, but not because it was a really nice goal. It was because the Maple Leafs probably thought they had the Bruins right where they wanted them after a long shift with an icing and a defensive zone face-off, but instead, the B’s flipped the script on Toronto. They took advantage of a bunch of overeager kids on the ice, as Riley Nash won the draw and Adam McQuaid flipped the puck up the ice, turning it into a 2-on-1 with David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand. Pastrnak fed a no-look pass to Marchand for a shot at the vacated net, and the rest was history for the Black and Gold in a game they most definitely needed to win if they wanted to capture the series.

HONORABLE MENTION: Riley Nash didn’t end up on the score sheet, but give him all kinds of credit for stepping up and filling in at the last minute with Bergeron a last-minute scratch from the lineup. It was Nash that won the D-zone face-off after an icing call at the end of a long shift, and he worked the puck to Adam McQuaid for the stretch play that turned into the game-winning goal. In all, Nash played 19:10 of ice time, had a shot on net, a hit, a blocked shot and a giveaway while playing between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. He battled his way to 12-of-25 face-off wins. In actuality, Nash had half the wins in the face-off circle for the entire team and was exactly the kind of solid player Boston needed to step in and have a calming influence on that top line. They weren’t spectacular, but they made the plays when it mattered.

BY THE NUMBERS: 12-5-2 – the Bruins record this season when Patrice Bergeron is out of the lineup, which is a testament to their overall depth and how well Riley Nash has played in his place this season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We tried to weather the storm and bring a storm of our own. We got the first goal tonight and that was a big thing. I think every team that’s scored first in the series has won.” –Jake DeBrusk, on the different ways the Bruins have combatted any home-ice advantage while they were in Toronto.

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